East 54

The Editor’s Note – Where the money is

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The most famous of American bank robbers – Willy Sutton, active in the 1930s – when finally captured was asked by police why he robbed banks. He replied: “Because that’s where the money is.”

European share prices recently hit a six-year high, though there is practically no indication that the continental economic crisis is over. Governments around the world have for years been mistaking finance for the economy, once again because “that’s where the money is”.

Unfortunately, that is not “where the people are”. The thing about the real economy is that it is real. It would be good if this understanding began to percolate back into the making of policy. If governing the economy continues to be primarily about money, democratic unhappiness is a likely result – and we already have enough problems.

One of the distinguishing features of East is that we prefer to write about things that are ‘real’. That’s the sense of this issue’s special dossier on marriage. This hugely important institution is rarely a subject for foreign policy debates, but it is in dramatic transformation all around the world. How these social struggles end – and we’re not speaking only about “same sex” unions – will have profound policy implications.

We owe a salute to King Juan Carlos of Spain, on his abdication.

The 76 year-old monarch had been suffering for some time, both for health reasons and for a range of scandals that had begun to afflict his reign.

A palace source said the king had decided to step down in January, but preferred to wait until after the European elections to make the announcement – a last and noble gift to his people.

In this issue we look too at three modern monarchs: Turkey’s Tayyip Erdoğan, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán – both apparently more popular in their own countries than abroad – and France’s François Hollande, not very popular anywhere.

Then: Peter the Great, the mechanics of money laundering, how we’ll defend the Earth from alien invaders and – speaking of space – the animal pioneers who help mankind finally climb into orbit and reach the Moon. Polygamy is alive and well around the world, Al Jazeera goes American and there’s a proposal to lock convicted criminals in their own minds – sentenced to a thousand years in eight hours…

Maybe you should visit Urumqi, the largest metropolis you’ve never heard of. You can probably find a burkini – the Islamically correct bathing costume – in its street markets. There’s much else, but no more room on this page.


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